Circle W Sports News
Where Are They Now? Ed Weaver of Circle W SportsMarch 31, 2021
For Ed Weaver sports was always a huge part of his life. However, like many athletes he knew it was never going to be a pro athlete.
So, what do you do to stay involved with something you love as much as sports?
For Weaver it was creating his own job, betting on himself, and launching a company that now produces sports websites, and compiles stats and information for sports teams. In high school Weaver played football and did track and field at Wellsboro, where he graduated early, only doing his fall semester senior year in 2004.
"We won the Morton Jones sophomore year, the first time since 1997," Weaver said. "It was a lot different than it was today. Seemed to be a lot more competitive. Just completely different from things are today. When we were playing we weren't friends on the field. After the game maybe but in the game it was more so I wanted to destroy this guy."
After high school Weaver went on to Penn College of Technology where he majored in a program that was essentially computer science. He graduated from college in the Winter of 2007, finishing college a semester early like he did high school. His junior year in college is when he started coaching football at Wellsboro (from 2006-2008) which is kind of when everything he does now started. Weaver always knew he wanted to be involved with sports, he just wasn't exactly sure how.
"In some way shape or form I really didn't know to what extent," Weaver said of wanting to be involved with sports. "When I was younger it really was all about coaching. Even up until the last couple years all about coaching. After I did my three-year paid stint at Wellsboro. I have always loved numbers and statistics. I started doing defensive stats for us in 2005. We had an opening, I applied, got hired as volunteer, but someone stopped doing it and I got bumped up to full time assistant.
"Since we started WellsboroFootball.com in 2006 it really took off from there. I was living in State College at the time and came home to do stats. I wanted to help keep the site current. I almost became a defacto sports writer, even though I'm not a sports writer covering all the Wellsboro events."
Weaver runs the NTL and District 4 websites right now, and that is always something that was the type of thing he was interested in.
"I always loved doing statistics, always loved sports history like we are doing with the NTL," Weaver said. "That's really how everything kind of started. Being at practices it was like hey we want to have you help with stats, but want you to be part of program to. That's really how it started." Then Circle W bloomed from there. "I used to work for Blackboard. It was Schoolwires at first. Instead of school athletic websites, it was school regular websites."
While he was working for Blackboard, Weaver was starting his own thing and he officially formed his LLC in 2015. The plans had been in the works through 2015 and then at the end of April in 2016 he left his job. For Weaver, it was a tough choice to go from a steady job, to gambling on himself. "Big time," Weaver said of how scary it was. "It's going from guaranteed bi-weekly pay checks and a $75,000 a year salary to you and your own thing. What you make is what is going in your bank account. It was pretty scary, it was pretty nerve wracking. I invested $20,000 of my own up front to get started, I applied for a business loan that floated me for the net year. Then the net year I put another $20,000-$25,000 back into it. I have $50,00, basically my entire life savings in it. I had just turned 30 when I started, I was 31 when I left Blackboard, it was scary, it was nerve wracking. There were definitely some times of why did I do this? At the same time, I was unhappy where I was. I always told myself I'd rather struggle to build something than sit in a job I'm unhappy with and collect a paycheck."
When he took the leap and started his company, Weaver started basically with just Wellsboro. "I had my Wellsboro clients," Weaver said. "WellsboroFootball.com, then it was Wellsboro Athletics. Then Circle W formed, the basketball, the baseball, the softball, the golf websites started popping up. I received six commitments up front, and then that winter, the winter of 2016, we pitched the NTL and District 4 and that's when it took off and kind of we are on to something here."
Now, Weaver has eight school districts, 11 teams, nine organizations, with the NTL and District 4 sites as well. For Weaver this all started with a platform he has had since he started the Wellsboro Football site.
"Realistically I had a platform that I had been evolving since 2006," Weaver said. "It wasn't completely fresh, but I took a lot of those concepts, and I had the team kind of concepts from the football and athletic websites. Being able to manage more than one team, being able to manage multiple sports and websites was the challenge. I spent all of last year from March until now rewriting, revamping, retooling my entire offering so you kind of see what is out there now, the NTL is an end result of that. Making sure the data is solid, making sure the sites keep communicating with each other.
Things were going great for Weaver, and then COVID hit and it kind of shut everything down and made it hard to add more sites. While there were a lot of challenges the past year, including no money coming in for a long stretch, Weaver also looked at the positives of having that time to work on his product.
"We basically didn't pitch anybody new, after the calendar year restarted in 2021 is when we started pitching people, we will make a big pitch in the next couple months," Weaver said. "This is what we are about in case you haven't known. It was almost like being in the coaches and players shoes, all the feelings and emotions they had, we want to play, I kind of felt the exact same way, yeah my business is so niche we kind of felt the same way. I told people we aren't going to charge people until we got going, until we got word mid-August that there would be a fall season I knew if that hadn't happened I could have been completely shut down all year. I didn't want to look too negatively because I was doing the rebuild. A lot of the changes we rolled out like the NTL we started building it back then, started building it during that time. It's out of your control, and you can be pissed off, and I was rightfully so but it's out of your hands, so when you have the time use it wisely. I think what we did do a year ago has paid off already.
"We are up to five (employees) right now including me, basically me getting it going from the ground up in coding, to where it is five of us that enter in data, I do the design and programming, it's still a small business. Luckily my staff was cool about it (during COVID). I was trying to keep them in as much of the loop it was like right now I don't need your help right now, it hurt to tell some good friends to say we have to scale back with what we are doing, we didn't have the cash flow coming in like you normally would. Coming into 2020 getting taxes done, Circle W was profitable for the first time since I started this, then boom pandemic. Even with some of the stuff we had lined up for PA Football News, it was going to be a big year. We had combines set up throughout the state, we were going to branch out and have a big push and that all came to a halt. Now you have the time to rebuild and get it to where you want to be."
For Weaver, all of this started when playing sports ended for him.
"We lost our last HS football game when I was a senior to North Penn. We finished 5-5 when I was a senior, we lost 4 of our 5 games by under 8 points each. The only game we lost by more than 8 points was when we lost to North Penn that year. I remember once the final buzzer went off and everything was done, you kind of get that finality point like now my athletic career is done, now what do I do. You always hear coaches say play every play like it's your last, you never know when your career will be cut short. Playing from 2nd grade from flag football leagues to small fry to junior high to varsity you just keep playing. Then as soon as your season is over and you don't play anymore sports that's it.
"Pretty much I almost kind of created my own job to an extent. Doing our stats has kept me involved in the athletic programs. Once we kind of start working more than just with a single program and start doing a whole district, now you get to watch more teams and better teams and teams you aren't familiar with and you start to see really exciting games happen. Working with Pa Football News we go all across the state. Just being able to do that and market yourself and reach out and introduce yourself and go to the various camps and clinics and combines. Say hey I can help you streamline and make things easier."
Right now, Weaver is doing a lot with his business, but he hopes to do even more in the future.
"Really I want to take over the state," Weaver said. "I want my platforms and the products to be used all through the state and hopefully the rest of the country will see it and hopefully they buy in. We are 4 corners in Pennsylvania, we are right across the border in Waverly, we are branching out in New York state. Hopefully we get the ball rolling and pick up. I want my platform to be used coast to coast when you think of sports data I want you to think of Circle W."